Who has the Proper Authority to Administer Gospel Ordinances?



1. Do you believe that true Christians must have Priesthood authority in order to perform the ordinances of the Gospel?

priesthood“The ordinances and principles of the gospel cannot be administered and taught without the Priesthood. The Father gave this authority to Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 5:4-6), who in turn ordained his Apostles and gave them the power and authority of the Priesthood (see Luke 9:1-2; Mark 3:14)… Through the Restoration the Priesthood was returned to the earth. Those who hold this Priesthood today have the authority to perform ordinances such as baptism. They also have the authority to direct the Lord’s kingdom on earth.” —Gospel Principles, pp. 102, 1112. According to your Church’s claims, when did Joseph Smith receive Priesthood authority?

2. According to your Church’s claims, when did Joseph Smith receive Priesthood authority?

“In restoring the gospel, God again gave the Priesthood to men. John the Baptist came in 1829 to ordain Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to the Aaronic Priesthood (see D&C 13; 27:8). Then Peter, James, and John, the presidency of the Church in ancient times, came and gave Joseph and Oliver the Melchizedek Priesthood and the keys of the Kingdom of God (see D&C 27:12-13).” —Gospel Principles, p. 111

3. What does LDS Scripture at Doctrine and Covenants 84:21-22 say a man must have before he can see God?

“And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the Priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.”—Doctrine and Covenants 84:21-22

4. Since Joseph Smith didn’t possess Priesthood authority when he claimed to see God in 1820, why do you claim that I or leaders in my church need to possess the LDS Priesthoods in order to communicate with God and act in His name?

5 Since you claim that my church doesn’t have the authority to administer Gospel ordinances because we do not have the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods, why was Joseph Smith able to organize the LDS Church in 1830 and baptize “two thousand” people into the Church BEFORE he received Priesthood authority? Doesn’t this prove that your Church leaders didn’t have the proper authority to act in God’s name when your Church was started?

NOTE: Mormons will react to this question by say something like this: “You’re wrong! Joseph Smith was given the Priesthood authority in 1829 BEFORE he organized the LDS Church in 1830!” When they say this, be prepared to ask the next set of questions with the photocopied documentation of the original versions of D&C 20 and D&C 27 published in 1833 in the Book of Commandments, marked with all the changes that were made to these revelations before they were republished in the Doctrine and Covenants in 1835. You can obtain these and other helpful photocopied pages from our article: “DID JOSEPH SMITH POSSESS THE PROPER PRIESTHOOD AUTHORITY TO RESTORE CHRIST’S CHURCH IN 1830?

6. If Joseph received the Priesthood BEFORE he organized the LDS Church, why is there NO mention of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods in your Doctrine and Covenants Section 20 revelation about “Church Government” given when Smith organized the Church on April 6th, 1830?

  • Why was the original version of D&C 20 published in the 1833 Book of Commandments changed to add the words “High Priesthood” into later versions at verse 67?
  • Why were ALL the verses in Doctrine and Covenants 27 that contain the story of Smith receiving the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood, missing as from the ORIGINAL version of that revelation published in the 1833?
  • Why was Doctrine and Covenants 13 (the revelation about Smith receiving the Aaronic Priesthood) completely missing from the revelations published in the Book of Commandments in 1833?

7. Can you see why the evidence indicates that Joseph Smith didn’t possess the LDS Priesthoods until a year or two AFTER he organized the LDS Church? Did you know that David Whitmer (an eyewitness to the founding of the Church) said that the changes made to these revelations were to cover-up the fact that Smith made up the idea of “Priesthood” AFTER he founded the LDS Church? In his 1887 book, An Address to All Believers in Christ, he said:

“You have changed the revelations from the way they were first given and as they are to-day in the Book of Commandments, to support the error of Brother Joseph in taking upon himself the office of Seer to the church. You have changed the revelations to support the error of high priests. You have changed the revelations to support the error of a President of the high Priesthood, high counselors, etc. You have altered the revelations to support you in going beyond the plain teachings of Christ in the new covenant part of the Book of Mormon. …In no place in the word of God does it say that an Elder is after the order of Melchisedec, or after the order of the Melchisedec Priesthood… This matter of ‘Priesthood,’ since the days of Sydney Rigdon, has been the great hobby and stumbling-block of the Latter Day Saints… Authority is the word we used for the first two years in the church—until Sydney Rigdon’s days in Ohio. This matter of the two orders of Priesthood in the church of Christ, and lineal Priesthood of the older law being in the church, all originated in the mind of Sydney Rigdon. He explained these things to Brother Joseph in his way, out of the old Scriptures, and got Brother Joseph to inquire, etc… This is the way the High Priests and the ‘Priesthood’ as you have it, was introduced into the Church of Christ almost two years after its beginning—and after we had baptized and confirmed about two thousand souls into the church… In Kirtland, Ohio, in June, 1831, at a conference of the church, the first High Priests were ordained into the church”—An Address to All Believers in Christ, David Whitmer, 1887, pp. 49, 64

8. Since Joseph Smith didn’t have the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood authority to organize and baptize people into the Church in 1830, why does my church need the LDS Priesthoods to act in God’s name? Did you know that even Jesus Himself didn’t hold the Aaronic Priesthood? Are you going to accuse Him of not having the proper authority to perform Gospel ordinances?

“And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the Priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes. …If therefore perfection were by the Levitical Priesthood…what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the Priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. …For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning Priesthood.” —Hebrews 7:5, 11-12, 14 1.

9. Since Jesus could not hold the Aaronic Priesthood because He was not of the tribe of Levi, how can you or Joseph Smith claim to hold this Priesthood?

“And thou shalt gird them with girdles, Aaron and his sons, and put the bonnets on them: and the priest’s office shall be theirs for a perpetual statute: and thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons.”— Exodus 29:9

“These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the priests which were anointed, whom he consecrated to minister in the priest’s office.…Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him..…And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest’s office: and the stranger that cometh neigh shall be put to death. —Numbers 3:3, 6, 10

“And the LORD said unto Aaron, Thou and thy sons and thy father’s house with thee shall bear the iniquity of the sanctuary: and thou and thy sons with thee shall bear the iniquity of your Priesthood. …And I, behold, I have taken your brethren the Levites from among the children of Israel: to you they are given as a gift for the LORD, to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation. Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest’s office for every thing of the altar, and within the vail; and ye shall serve: I have given your priest’s office unto you as a service of gift: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.” —Numbers 18:1, 6-7

10. What tribe of Israel are you from? Didn’t Joseph Smith claim to be of the tribe of Ephraim?

“…the Prophet Joseph Smith… was of the lineage of Joseph through the loins of Ephraim.”—Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, p. 247

11. According to Genesis 41:45, 50-52, who was Ephraim’s mother?

“And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt. … And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him. And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him. And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh… And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”—Genesis 41:45, 50-52

12. Since Joseph in the Bible was married to Asenath who was an Egyptian woman, doesn’t this make Ephraim and Manasseh half-Egyptian in lineage?

Asenath… The Egyptian wife of Joseph (Gen. 41:45, 50; 46:20). …On…An ancient city of Lower Egypt situated on the Nile Delta (Gen. 41:45:45, 50).”—Nelson’s Quick Reference Bible, People & Places, pp. 37, 267

Potipherah… the Egyptian priest of On whose daughter, Asenath, was given to Joseph for a wife (Gen. 41:45, 50; 46:20).”—Zondervan’s Pictorial Bible Dictionary, Merrill C. Tenney, General Editor, p. 673

13. According to LDS Scripture, Abraham 1:21-22, 26-27, what lineage was “cursed” from holding the “Priesthood”?

“Now this king of Egypt was a descendant from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth. From this descent sprang all the Egyptians, and thus the blood of the Canaanites was preserved in the land. … Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers …and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood. Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry.”—Abraham 1:21-22, 26-27

14. Since Mormon Scripture proclaims that “all of the Egyptians” were “cursed… pertaining to the Priesthood,” how could Joseph Smith, being a descendant of the half-Egyptian tribe of Ephraim, receive the Priesthood?

15. Do you have parents? Are you “separate from sinners”? How can you to possess the power of the Melchizedek Priesthood, when the qualifications for the person holding this Priesthood is possessing the eternal nature of existing “without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life” and living a sinless life as one “who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners”?

“For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God.…Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was.…For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.”—Hebrews 7:1, 3-4, 26-27

NOTE: Mormons often object to this interpretation of Hebrews 7 by claiming that these qualifications refer to the “office” of the Melchizedek Priesthood and not to the men holding this Priesthood authority. 2. If they bring this excuse up, ask them:

What would a Priesthood “office” look like if it had a mother and a father? Can you see why the “Melchisedec” priest mentioned in the Bible was a picture of Christ being “made like unto the Son of God” because Jesus in His God nature existed from eternity “without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life”?

We know that these qualifications refer to the “man” Melchisedec as a picture of Jesus Christ and not to the “office” of Priesthood because verse 4 of Hebrews 7 says: “Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.” Because Jesus has always existed from eternity past to eternity future, Jesus is the only “man” today who is able to fulfill all of the qualifications of this Melchizedek Priesthood as “The mighty God, The everlasting Father” of Isaiah 9:6.

16. According to the Bible, how many men are allowed to serve as High Priests over God’s people at one time?

“And… he shall abide in it unto the death of the high priest, which was anointed with the holy oil. … Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge until the death of the high priest: but after the death of the high priest the slayer shall return into the land of his possession.”—Numbers 35:25, 28

“And he shall dwell in that city, until he stand before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the high priest that shall be in those days: then shall the slayer return, and come unto his own city, and unto his own house, unto the city from whence he fled.” —Joshua 20:6

“And it was so, when they saw that there was much money in the chest, that the king’s scribe and the high priest came up, and they put up in bags, and told the money that was found in the house of the LORD. …And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels…” —2 Kings 12:10; 23:4

“Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it…” —Nehemiah 3:1

“And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all. …And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation.” —John 11:49, 51

17. Since only one “High Priest” can exist at one time, how can LDS claim that the “high priest” ordination of MANY Mormon leaders is legitimate?

“A bishop is also ordained a high priest so he can preside over all members in the ward. …High Priests Quorum Each quorum includes all high priests residing within the boundaries of a stake, including patriarchs and bishops. The stake president and his counselors are the presidency of the quorum. The high priests in each ward are organized into a group with a group leader.” —Gospel Principles, pp. 89, 92

18. According to the Bible, WHO is to be the Christian’s ONLY High Priest forever?

“Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus. …Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. …Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. …Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. …And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death. But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable Priesthood.” —Hebrews 3:1; 4:14; 5:10; 6:20; 7:23-24

19. Did you know that the Bible mentions a third Priesthood that is separate from the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods?

“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ …But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”—1 Peter 2:5, 9

“And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” —Revelation 5:9-10

20. Did you know that this “Royal Priesthood” is given to ALL Christian believers, both male and female, when they place their trust in the true Jesus Christ of the Bible? So, who are the ones who truly have the proper Authority of God today?

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power [authority] to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”—John 1:12

“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” —Galatians 3:27-28

For more information see:

bullets Did Joseph Smith Possess the Proper Priesthood Authority to Restore Christ’s Church in 1830?
bullets Why Mormons Denied Blacks the Priesthood

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